Although Barbadian market conditions will stay “tough” for the remainder of the year, Chief Executive Officer of Massy United Insurance, Howard Hall, is predicting some improvement for the insurance industry over last year.
During the coming months, the company plans to introduce some new products here in Barbados and is looking to expand its regional footprint by entering new markets, said Director of Business Development, Strategy and Marketing, Michael Armstrong.
The company is currently awaiting approval from regulators to start doing business in three regional markets.
Hall said while it was still too early to say if the industry had rebounded following the downturn in the local economy in recent years, one thing was certain – competition had increased due mainly to a fall in general insurance rates. He added that while the country was experiencing some economic growth again, he did not expect the insurance industry to immediately improve.
“The insurance industry is a long-term business so it doesn’t really get affected by things that have just happened. It will be a tough year. It will probably be a little bit better than last year but it will be a tough year. But our purpose is to be here for the long run for our clients,” said Hall.
Armstrong echoed similar sentiments as he pointed out that the Barbados market was perhaps one of the most challenging of the 14 regional markets the company operates in.
“There is a lot of competition out there …but at the end of the day, it comes down to a strong relationship with our clients and excellent customer services with good products,” said Armstrong, noting that Trinidad and Tobago was perhaps the market where most of the growth had taken place in the last year.
Armstrong pointed out that rebranding the company to Massy had impacted performance in a positive way. He also reported that since the introduction of new home and motor insurance products in the last year, there had been renewed interest in Barbados.
Armstrong added that since the insurance industry remained “challenging”, it was critical for the company to do what it could to be constantly in the minds of individuals. “So the response has been good. We have been doing a lot of things from a marketing and promotion perspective to ensure the brand recognition on a continuous basis,” he said. “You can do one of two things. You
can either sit back and do nothing or you can move forward and do a lot.”
Opting not to say which new markets the company was seeking to enter, Armstrong would only say “the wider Caribbean”, pointing out that the Massy brand had recently expanded into Costa Rica and Colombia through joint ventures and the option was there for the insurance company to enter those markets
“We are on an expansion path and, at the same time, we are looking at other new products that we want to bring to the market certainly within the next 12 months,” said Armstrong. “In fact, there are some other opportunities that we are looking at in terms of expanding our footprint when it comes to market coverage because we want to go out to the market rather than the market come to us.
“We want to provide a high level of convenience and we are seeing the returns on that,” he added.